The common point of entry for a safari in Kenya is Nairobi. Nairobi is one of Africa’s biggest transport hubs. Many airlines fly to Kenya and competition is strong, making flights to Nairobi relatively inexpensive.
Kenya’s main airport is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) located 9 miles southeast of Nairobi. Kenya’s second largest international airport is Moi International Airport (MBA) located 6 miles west of Mombasa but, aside from flights to Zanzibar, this is primarily used for domestic and charter flights.
From Nairobi or Mombasa, one can fly or drive between reserves, or opt to do a bit of both. The road to the Masai Mara is long and bumpy and the location of the park is remote in comparison to others, which makes flying the most attractive option. Some of the private parks in Laikipia are also often traveled to by air. Other parks can easily be reached by road. Domestic flights out of Nairobi depart from Wilson Airport (WIL), 6km/4mi south of Nairobi.
Getting around Kenya is relatively easy, whether you crisscross the country by highway bus or hire a car or cruise the clear skies and placid seas by light aircraft or dhow.
Most of Kenya’s towns and cities are accessible by local bus though it’s usually necessary to arrange private transport to reach national parks and lodges. If you’re a seasoned driver in African conditions, hiring a sturdy vehicle can also open up relatively inaccessible corners of the country; if you don’t fancy driving yourself, hiring a vehicle with a driver rarely costs a lot more.
Kenya lies on the equator and has a pleasant tropical climate, but there are large regional climatic variations influenced by several factors, including altitude. Temperatures drop by about 3.5 degrees per 1000 feet. Kenya’s daytime temperatures average between 68 degrees and 82 degrees, but it is warmer on the coast. The coast is hot and humid all year round, but the heat is pleasant and tempered by the monsoon winds. Kenya is too close to the equator to experience a real winter and summer. There is, however, a dry and wet season.
June to October – Dry Season
- Wildlife is easier to spot because the bush is less dense and animals gather around waterholes and rivers.
- It’s unlikely to rain, the days are sunny with clear skies and there are fewer mosquitoes.
- July to October are the best months to see the wildebeest migration.
- It gets very busy and crowded in the most popular parks.
November to May – Wet Season
- The scenery is beautiful and green. Rates are lower because it’s the low season.
- Newborn animals can be seen and, in general, you will still see plenty of wildlife even though it is easier to spot during the dry season.
- Migratory birds are present from September to April.
- Except for March, April and May, rains are short showers in the afternoon or evening and will rarely compromise your safari.
- During March to May the rains can be continuous and, when not raining, it is often clouded. Some lodges and camps close down during part of the wet season.
Malaria Risk & Vaccination
Malaria is a major health scourge in Kenya. Infection rates vary with the season (higher in the rainy season) and climate, so check out the situation before departure. The incidence of malaria transmission at altitudes higher than 2000m is rare.
Malaria is caused by a parasite in the bloodstream spread via the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. There are several types, falciparum malaria being the most dangerous and the predominant form in Kenya. Unlike most other diseases regularly encountered by travellers, there is no vaccination against malaria (yet). However, several different drugs are used to prevent malaria and new ones are in the pipeline. Up-to-date advice from a travel health clinic is essential, as some medication is more suitable for some travellers than others. The pattern of drug-resistant malaria is changing rapidly, so what was advised several years ago might no longer be the case.
The World Health Organization (www.who.int/en/) recommends that all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as for hepatitis B, regardless of their destination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (www.cdc.gov), the following vaccinations are recommended for Kenya: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningococcal meningitis, rabies and typhoid, and boosters for tetanus, diphtheria, polio and measles. It is also advisable to be vaccinated against yellow fever.
For more immunization advice follow the links below.
Australia – www.travelclinic.com.au
Canada – www.iamat.org – Vaccinations / Malaria
Ireland – www.tmb.ie
New Zealand – www.iamat.org – Vaccinations / Malaria
United Kingdom – www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk
United States – wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel